(#20) Coping with End-of-the-School-Year Stress
Greetings Busy Therapist,
This is going to be short (well, shorter than usual!).
If doing therapy right now was all you had to do, you’d be fine; but paperwork complicates things. Your normal days are probably scheduled for therapy, so the question is, just when are you supposed to fit in the grunge-tasks? Sometimes, you may have to cancel or double-up on your schedule (e.g., put your 8:30 kids in with your 9:30 kids, etc.).
I know you have a lot on your plate. Following are some additional suggestions for fitting it all in and successfully living through it. I’ve done all of them myself (and continue to do them), and most of the time they actually help. Good luck!
I know this sounds hokey, but, carefully and intentionally watch your Mind-Set. Believe me, our mind-set can do us in, or it can beneficial. Usually wherever your mind is, your actions will follow. Here’s some thoughts on thinking.
- While lying in bed or in the shower, review the positive things you’ve done this year. Acknowledge your good accomplishments, e.g., that child on the spectrum made some significant social gains, or you and others can now understand that totally unintelligible child, or one of your language kids is now able to speak (mostly) in grammatically correct sentences and stays (mostly) on task. You might have even experienced a break-through with a difficult teacher. Stop and acknowledge your successes and pat yourself on the back.
- If you have a perfectionistic bent (as I do!!), grit your teeth, and deliberately pull back for a day (or two days, or a week). Just get the tasks done. They don’t have to be perfect. And heaven forbid, sometimes, they don’t even have to be totally accurate. Just do them. (I’m not telling you to lie; just get them done; no one will be hurt if your data is slightly off.)
- If you get deer-in-the-headlights stuck and you don’t know which task to tackle first—because all of them are important—try the following:
Close the door and grab your phone; set your timer for two minutes. (I know you don’t think you have two minutes; that’s okay, just take them anyway.) Uncross your legs, put your feet flat on the floor and hands relaxed in your lap. Close your eyes and totally relax your body. Clear your mind; don’t think about school, your tasks, your kids, or what to make for dinner; empty your mind. Do this for two minutes. When the timer goes off, look briefly at your list of things (you probably have them written down) and make a quick decision. Don’t labor over it, i.e., don’t analyze them; just start the task and keep going.
- Take a half-hour and work as fast as you can to get as much done as possible. Do one task at a time; don’t multi-task. Stay focused and crank through. Put a note on your door “Please: Do Not DISTURB!”
- Even when you have a ton to do, stay focused on the primary reason you’re there: The Kids. Everything else is supplementary and a sub-category that falls within your job description (okay, if you had a job description). Just get the paperwork done. Question: Who reads it? Another SLP? Probably not; so, write for whoever that is!
If you take paperwork home, it will probably infringe on your personal life and you’ll start to have resentment; I know it did for me. I suggest this summer you continue to think about how to include paperwork-time into your weekly schedule (see “flex-time” in last week’s Therapy Matters). You’ve got a few months! You can do it!
Have a productive week,
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